Measles, also known as rubeola, is one of the most contagious infectious diseases. It is a viral infection commonly affecting the pediatric population. The disease can be prevented by receiving vaccination against it.
Preliminary signs and symptoms of measles begin to show effect after the 8 – 12 days of exposure to virus. The disease begins by development of rash which usually occurs 3 – 5 days after the individuals complain of feeling sick. The rash usually is first spotted on the head which then gradually spreads to other parts of the body. The rash is flat in appearance, red in color and is solid.
In addition to rash, the viral infection also produces other signs and symptoms which include fever, cough and cold, development of bloodshot eyes and conjunctivitis, sore throat, running nose, muscular pain, appearance of tiny white spots inside the mouth known as Koplik’s spots. Individuals with measles also develop sensitivity towards light .
Measles is diagnosed by careful examination of the rash that develops on the body. If along with the rash, there is appearance of bluish–white spot with a bright red background inside the cheek then the diagnosis is confirmed . In many cases, a complete blood count is conducted which would reveal elevated levels of antibodies in individuals with measles.
There is no specific regime for treating measles. However, certain measures can be adopted to manage the symptoms of the disease. The following methods can be employed to effectively control the condition:
Vaccination: Measles vaccination can also be administered to individuals who have already contracted the disease condition. Individuals who have been exposed to the measles virus can be given the vaccination within 72 hours. In case, the illness still develops the symptoms are milder and of short duration .
Antibody injection: Pregnant women or infants who have been exposed to the measles virus are given the immune serum globulin injection. This antibody may even prevent the development of measles or can even reduce the degree of severity of symptoms.
Medications: Medications can be given to reduce fever and other associated symptoms of measles. In addition, antibiotics also form a part of the management if secondary infections co-exist.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A supplements are given to individuals with poor levels of this vitamin. Usually doses of 200,000 IU are given for 2 days.
Prognosis of the disease is usually favorable if treatment is initiated on time. However, in individuals who present with significant complications, then for such cases prognosis of the condition is poor requiring rigorous treatment regime.
Children infected with the virus can spread the infection to other individuals as well. The virus that is known to cause measles is known measles virus, a paramyxovirus that belongs to the genus Morbillivirus. This virus can adversely affect the immune system, respiratory tract and the skin of the individuals. It is an airborne disease and can easily spread when the infected person either talks, coughs or sneezes. The infected particles can stay active and affect other persons who come in contact with it .
Prior to the introduction of the measles virus vaccine, the disease affected about 90% children below the age of 5 years across the globe .The incidence of measles though decreased after the introduction of the vaccine, but considerable number of cases were still reported worldwide. In the year 2000, measles was reported to be the 5th most common cause of death amongst children below 5 years. In 2003, the disease caused about 31 – 39.9 million illnesses across the globe with about 733,000 – 777,000 deaths .
The measles virus primarily attacks the respiratory system following the immune system. It is a highly contagious disease and the incidence peaks during the winter season. The infection spreads by coming in contact with infected droplets of the individual with measles. When the affected individual talks or sneezes, the droplets can stay in the active state for about 2 hours . Once the virus gains entry into the human system, then after about 2 – 4 days it affects the lymphatic tissues. The virus then spreads to other parts of the body through the lymph nodes.
It is necessary to take preventive steps to protect vulnerable individuals from measles. If someone in family has developed measles, the following steps can be taken to prevent the spread of the disease :
Isolation: The infected person should be kept in isolation to prevent the spread of the virus. Non-immunized individual should not be in any way allowed to interact with affected individuals.
Vaccination: This is one of the most effective methods for preventing measles outbreak. It is necessary that all individuals who have not received vaccination against measles be vaccinated as soon as possible .
Serum immune globulin shots: Individuals who have been exposed to the virus should receive serum immune globulin shots to prevent development of measles.
This viral disease spreads easily from person to person contact making the condition widely prevalent amongst the immunecompromised population. Once developed, the condition can have deleterious effects on the immunity of the affected children. Though measles can strike the children, it is known to affect individuals of all age groups. In the past, the disease was a common occurrence. However, after the introduction of the measles vaccine in the year 1963, the prevalence decreased significantly .
Measles is a viral infection which is highly contagious in nature. According to reports published by the World Health Organization, there were 2.6 million deaths due to measles in the year 1980. With the introduction of measles vaccination, the death rate dropped dramatically, but there were still high cases of measles reported each year worldwide.
The disease is spread when individuals with weakened immune system come in contact with infected droplets of person with measles. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, the droplets can stay in active state for 2 hours and can cause infection in someone who comes in contact with it.
Measles primarily begins with development of rash which first appears on the head and later on spreads to rest of the body. Affected individuals also experience fever, cough, cold, muscle pain, sore throat, conjunctivitis, bloodshot eyes and sensitivity to light.
No specific treatment for measles exists. Affected individuals are vaccinated against the disease to decrease the severity of the symptoms. In addition, certain medications are given to manage the symptoms. Individuals who are exposed to the virus are given measles vaccination within 72 hours to prevent the onset of the disease.